Thursday, April 19, 2012
Another Migraine Trigger Unmasked
Since I was having four or five a week, complete with numbness on the right side of my body and slurring words, just limiting those foods was a huge step (it seems I can still have a few slices of bacon here or a package of skittles there, as long as they're spaced out and in moderation). Or so I thought. What I didn't realize was that when we moved I eliminated a rather frequent beverage and that was apparently a big part of my mostly migraine free state.
I had wondered if there was something else. I love bacon (when I'm not pregnant... at the moment I despise it) but wasn't eating bacon that often (usually just as a topping with certain soups). And was I eating that much candy or soda? Still I couldn't figure out another trigger.
Until Sunday when Paul brought home a flavored carbonated bottled water. We used to drink quite a bit of CVS's Gold Label flavored carbonated water (I would estimate I probably drank it 4-5 times a week... we had the CVS discount and the bottles are fairly big and would last me a couple days). I usually hate the taste of pretty much all diet drinks, with their artificial sweeteners, and I guess that's why I didn't look too closely at the bottled "waters'" label.
As I began to eliminate foods and watch for migraine triggers the triggers became fairly obvious (when I thought they were entirely hormonal I never thought to looks for a connection). I would bite into one piece of bacon too many and feel the migraine start almost instantly. I'd take a sip of soda and have the same feeling. Halfway through the carbonated water I felt the migraine start and my mind began to whirl. This had to be it. Something in the water.
Tonight, with the migraine gone (it's been replaced with the flu! I seriously need a break from feeling like this!), I started googling the water ingredients and the likely ingredient jumped out pretty quickly (probably because the product site had a section labeled "warning").
"Phenylalanine." I copied and pasted and googled and found out phenylalanine is what's in aspartame. And after reading a little more I'd have to say that despite the FDA's assurances that aspartame is super safe (the Wikipedia goes into that extensively) I definitely don't think that it's safe for me. The one major diet change when we moved was the elimination of those bottled waters, since Paul no longer worked at CVS and got the discount, and couldn't just pick up a few on his way home from work.
And while it seems that there are plenty of studies out there to tell me I'm wrong and that I should just keep putting aspartame in my body (NutraSweet commissioned the study that came to that conclusion...), I think I'll take the fact that I'm not slurring my words with numbness on one side of my body, or hiding from light and sounds for more than half the week, as a sign that the studies might be missing something (like maybe the fact that not every migraine sufferer will have the same migraine triggers!).
Now that I've discovered this trigger I'm hoping I might go over a month without a migraine! I don't think that's happened since I was 14 years old (over half my life now!)! I'm pretty excited!